More and more companies have been adopting a portal-based intranet. Portals give users an easy gateway for obtaining large quantities of information on one page. This eliminates the need for the user to go to multiple locations to get the information they need. Online portals such as Yahoo! allows us to obtain news, weather, sports scores, mail, games and so much more on just one page. Another portal is Amazon’s A9.com search portal, which lets us do searches on multiple areas without going to separate pages. We can search for web pages, books, images and much more on one page. A9.com utilizes Ajax to display the information on the screen. This allows for a great user experience since the user does not have to sit and wait for page re-rendering when new search results are displayed.
Over the time, portals have evolved from simple sites that let us check our mail and do a search to elaborate setups that allow us to obtain a large amount of information in little effort. By comparison, in the past we had to check one site for news, another for comics, and another for a search and so on. Either we had tons of bookmarks for the sites that we checked daily or we just mentioned our routine of what addresses to type into the browser.
Before incorporating Ajax, Yahoo! accomplished this by sending us to maintenance screens to alter the information. One example of the maintenance page allows us to select the city that we live in so that the weather forecast is for our area. Later they have enhanced the user experience even more by incorporating Ajax into the portal in the same way that Amazon did with the A9.com portal.
Now let’s narrow the search results. We know that we are looking for a book that Pascarello has written, so we click the Book checkbox. The Book Results page is inserted into the right-hand side of the page. The search results for Eric Pascarello’s books are displayed without posting the entire page back to the server to obtain them.
Another example of using Ajax to enhance the portal experience is in the configuration of the portal. Ajax allows the user interface to become part of the configuration-management tools by having the user click on objects in the window instead of going to another web-page to configure the setup. The user can dynamically resize and position the elements on the screen, thus customizing his portal to fit his needs exactly.